Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ACORN disrupts foreclosures

Members of the Allegheny County Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now joined others from branches around the nation in Washington, D.C. Feb. 10 to push for approval of the economic stimulus package and specifically to protest home foreclosures.

Protesters gathered at the private auctions of Alex Cooper and Harvey West to stop the sale of several homes. Though several volunteers from Pittsburgh said they actually helped four families from losing their homes, this might not be true.

“We basically disrupted the sales for an hour,” national campaign director Craig Robbins said. “This is part of our campaign to bring attention to the fact that families are losing their homes.”

The volunteers entered the auctions in Chevy Chase Plaza under the premise of being buyers and began protesting when other volunteers joined them. The auctioneer from the company Harvey West was forced to leave by the man who rented him the room.

“They had paid already for their space, but when we went in there the guy just told them to get out,” volunteer Yvonne Jones said. “He didn’t care what they had paid for. I don’t know if he had gotten reimbursed for it.”

When the auctioneer left ACORN volunteers continued to follow him out to the street where he tried to continue the auction.

“It’s unclear if we actually stopped him from transacting his business,” Robbins said. “I think he was talking to individuals.”

HELPING HANDS— Right front: John May of Pittsburgh protests on the way to a foreclosure auction at Chevy Chase Plaza.
Although it is likely these sales will take place at a later time or have already been completed, Robbins said ACORN’s point was still made. He said ACORN believes the foreclosure crisis will be helped by the economic stimulus plan, “but in the meantime no families should be losing their homes.”

Close to 30 volunteers from Pittsburgh joined with others on Capitol Hill to continue the protest of foreclosures and encourage President Barack Obama to sign the economic stimulus bill. The stimulus package proposes $4.5 billion be given to ACORN.

“There were people from everywhere—Florida, California, Washington,” said volunteer Jacqueline Jones. “It was huge to see all these people coming together for one cause.”

Jones said banks have received aid from the government but they are still conducting foreclosures. She said this money should be used to help people keep their homes.

Starting Feb. 19, the next phase of ACORN’s plan will begin with participants in the ACORN Home Savers campaign refusing to leave homes in foreclosure. Pittsburgh will be in the second wave of the campaign and ACORN will begin “Home Defender” training in the area.

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